Saakashvili Awards Rugby Team for Beating Russia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 22 Mar.'10 / 00:48

President Saakashvili awarded on Sunday each member of Georgia's rugby team with Order of Honor after beating Russia 36-8 in the last round of the European Nations Cup to secure top spot in division one.

Both Georgia and Russia had already qualified for the next year's World Cup in New Zealand even before Saturday's match, with Georgia finishing with 27 points in the group, followed by Russia with 25 points.

Speaking at a meeting with players from the national team in the presidential palace, Saakashvili thanked the team for dedicating the match against Russia to the memory of fallen Georgian soldiers.

"I do not want to politicize sport and we should not have any hate for sportsmen and we don't have any; sport is about friendship; but not a single Russian television station reported about your victory," Saakashvili said.

"Georgians have called the yesterday's match 'a match of honor'; I want to award the entire team with Order of Honor," he said.

Georgia-Russia match was played in Turkey's Black Sea town of Trabzon, about three-hour drive from the Georgian border on a stadium packed with up to 6,000 Georgians. Davit Bakradze, the Georgian parliamentary speaker; Nika Rurua, sports and culture minister, Alexander Lomaia, Georgia's UN ambassador, Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze; Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava, as well as First Lady Sandra Roelofs were among them.

The Georgians beat the Russians 29-21 in their first clash of this season's tournament in Mariupol, Ukraine year ago.

Saturday's match was in the top story on the Georgian television stations with news bulletins covering extensively not only its result followed by celebrations, but also run-up to the match in previous days. 

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